Thursday, 23 August 2012

Blogphilosophy: learning is a way out of life's options given at birth

Life is a long strand of actions, choices, forced decisions, or results that can be causes themselves and causes leading to results... my learning path cannot be called normal nor without its challenges, nevertheless, I made it. Meaning: I got out of a precarious place, I left chaos behind me. I now have a job, a house, a partner that loves and loved me even when the chips were down. I survived and all of a sudden I realized when looking what happens in the world today ... life was easy.

If you have ever been poor, or challenged, or have fallen victim to one of the many temptations that lead to a life of misery and complexity, you know why at a certain point you pull yourself together and start learning. For if you had to fight for a long period of time, simply to keep on living, there is only one way out. Granted, a way out that has many faces, but the same at its core: learning.

We learn to get out of the mess we are in, or - less dramatic and urgent - to improve our lives. In the first case, we cannot but learn the hard way.

Yesterday I got word that one of the children from the day care center my son is at, will be banned. Her parents no longer have the money. They are in debt. Having been poor, I picked up certain familiar traits indicating financial challenges creeping up on them. Nothing big, the last thing any of us want is that poverty becomes apparent at first glance, but nevertheless those of us who have been there, see it.
That little girl of not even two years of age will now stay at home. Her family situation is tough and with no quick fixes.As soon as finances become a heavy burden, family life gets harder. Everything becomes a discussion. Tensions arise. Everything becomes a priority, and sadly every choice deletes another priority. So here she is, that little girl, amidst dire straights, no longer at a nanny for 7 hours a week. She was at ease at the nanny. There she got organic fresh food, a good and safe shelter, and positive stimulation's. During every day at the nursery that little girl would learn from her peers, have no or less worries for a big part of her waking day. Now, she will be out. And once a child is out of daycare in my region, it is almost impossible to get back in. Because she will now be home, the chances of her parents being able to earn extra money diminish as well... she risks being caught in a downward spiral simply because of her position since birth.

In the same week I heard that the 21 year old Somalian athlete Samya Yusuf Omar, who carried the Olympic flag for her country during the Beijing games perished. Dead because she was on a path to improve her living conditions, her chances. She wanted to compete during the London Olympics and had the potential, but ... on her way to find a coach (she did not get funds in her own country), she died during a shipwreck, while escaping her living conditions in an attempt to increase her chances, attain her full potential. Living conditions she tackled were undoubtedly plenty: sports, endurance, perseverance, creating chances ... unfortunately her birth chances put her in a difficult starting position and because of that, at a certain point she embarked on a fatal trip in a raggedy ship, heading North to Fort Europe.  

The thing is, learning is not simply getting a degree, having some paper indicating you went through hours of books, assignments... For the most of us learning is the only way out of personal challenges, and its a hard road without guarantees. And what is worse, hardly any of us get to learn what it takes to learn. Learning takes a lot of unwritten skills. That is why learning in any form is so dear to my heart. I need to believe that when we all pitch in, we can make a change. Create more chances... not to become the president or prime minister of any country, but to attain peace of mind, or peace all together.

In the meantime my son has two mothers watching over him, both of them now working in education. We know the benefits of education and of the simple act of learning. We know how the system works, what the pitfalls are and why simply learning to learn will improve his chances for a healthy, happy life. For us, he does not need to become anything else but a happy human being, able to find his way. Not sure if it will work, but ... at least there are increased chances. Would not it be lovely to create these chances for all of us?